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Four 'unsolved mysteries' of Avoyelles Parish

{First of two articles about Avoyelles' unsolved mysteries}

While most missing persons and suspicious deaths are quickly resolved, some remain unsolved.

In Avoyelles Parish, there are five such cases.

One, the body of an unidentified man found in Spring Bayou in June 2009 is the subject of a separate article.

The other four are reviewed here.

The most recent unsolved case is the disappearance of Timothy “Bucky” Tarver Jr., 23, of Kolin who was last seen leaving Oak Haven Nursing Home in Centerpoint on March 30, 2019.

“He walked to the nursing home and visited our grandmother,” Melanie Pharis-Crowe said. She is Tarver’s cousin and administrator for the online site. “He had walked from his mom’s house from behind Centerpoint Gas station to the Dollar General where my mother works.”

Tarver is white, 6 feet tall and weighs about 180 pounds. He has brown hair and blue-hazel eyes.

He has several tattoos, including 'Beast 51' and 'Mode 50' on the insides of both upper arms; a 'skull' with 'automatic rifles' on his right calf and five individual 'stars' on both shoulders. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

APSO Chief Deputy Steve Martel said the department is actively working on Tarver’s case, following numerous leads that have as of yet yielded no results.

Anyone with information on Tarver’s whereabouts is asked to call the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office at 253-4000 or their nearest police department.

FACES Lab, which administers the missing person register, also asks that anyone with information call assistant research professor Teresa Wilson at 225-578-4761 or research associate Maria Allaire at 225-578-4775.

Information can also be posted at the “Help Bring Timothy Tarver Home” Facebook site.

GUILLOT DISAPPEARANCE

Another unsolved missing person case is one that has been frustrating for prosecutors because they “know” what happened, but cannot prove their suspicions.

That is the disappearance of Jessica Raquel Guillot of Simmesport, who was last seen on Sept. 7, 2013. She is believed to be dead, but her body has not been found.

Five people have been tried for charges related to her abduction, but there have been no charges connected to her death.

District Attorney Charles Riddle said murder charges will be brought if a witness or evidence is found to support those charges.

Unless or until that happens, prosecutors have to be content with the convictions secured in the kidnapping case.

MAYEAUX MURDER

There are also two unsolved murder mysteries in the parish. The most noted is the December 2011 murder of Christine Mayeaux.

Again, it is a case of “knowing” but not “proving” what happened.

The only conviction related to the case was of Jared Tidwell, who was found guilty of cleaning up the murder scene in an attempt to destroy evidence.

Two suspects have died.

If Tidwell knows who committed the crime, he has not unburdened his conscience by sharing that knowledge with authorities.

LACHNEY DEATH

Another unsolved mystery is the death of Ray Paul Lachney of Mansura, who went missing on July 3, 2015. After a 6-month search for the man, family members found the body along the railroad tracks in Mansura.

The condition of the body made it impossible to determine cause of death.

Family members believed it was murder. Prosecutors had no suspects and no evidence to prove murder.

In September 2018, Lisa Rabalais was arrested and charged with being an accessory after the fact to homicide in connection with Lachney’s death.

She was convicted at trial Sept. 17-18 and was sentenced to the maximum penalty of five years in prison for that offense.

Riddle said Rabalais was convicted of knowing about the crime and withholding that information, but did not participate in the actual crime.

Even though there has been a conviction in the case, and there have been allegations against a suspect, it is still considered “unsolved” until the question concerning Lachney’s death is resolved.

Once again, prosecutors believe they know what happened but have not yet proven their case.

Riddle said he is “looking forward to prosecuting other possible defendants” related to Lachney’s death.

The testimony of a participant would go a long way in proving that case.

At trial, Rabalais maintained she did not know what happened to Lachney and said witnesses who said she did were lying.

‘KNOWING’ & ‘PROVING’

The case is not expected to remain on the parish’s list of “unsolved mysteries.” However, there is that recurring issue of the difference between “knowing” and “proving.”

The judicial principles of “innocent until proven guilty” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” are the cornerstones of American justice. They are intended to ensure that innocent suspects are not sent to prison for crimes they did not commit.

Those cornerstones also contribute to the number of unsolved mysteries that haunt law enforcement officers who investigated the crimes and prosecutors who “know” but can’t “prove” the cases that would solve those mysteries.

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